November 26, 2016 - No. 46

In Memoriam

¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre, Fidel!

August 13, 1926 – November 25, 2016

Message from Cuban President Raúl Castro
Decree on National Period of Mourning
- Council of State of the Republic of Cuba -
Press Release Regarding Nationwide Tributes to Fidel
- Funeral Organizing Commission -

Vigils to Honour the Revolutionary Life and Work of Fidel 

Remembering the Life and Work of Fidel Castro
Statement of the Canadian Network on Cuba
Principles Are Worth More Than Life Itself
- Fidel Castro, 1994 -
One Hundred Images of the Cuban Revolution -- 1953-1996
- Introduction by Abel Prieto -

In Memoriam

¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre, Fidel!

With deepest sorrow, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) learned that on Friday, November 25, at 10:29 pm, Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, leader of the ever victorious Cuban Revolution, passed away.

We send our profound condolences on this very sad occasion to Comrade Raúl Castro and the entire Cuban leadership, to all the Cuban people and their Communist Party and to Comrade Fidel's family.

Comrade Fidel will live in our hearts in death as he did in life, inspiring us to defy all impediments to human and social progress and to break new ground and reach new heights in all our endeavours. May the revolutionary spirit, fidelity to principle and the profound generosity which characterized Fidel's every action imbue our thoughts on this very sad day.

¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

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Message from Cuban President Raúl Castro

Message from the President of Cuba's Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro, notifying the Cuban people and world of the death of the late leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro.


Dear people of Cuba:

It is with deep sorrow that I come before you to inform our people, and friends of Our America and the world, that today, November 25, at 10.29 pm, Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz passed away. In accordance with his express wishes Compañero Fidel's remains will be cremated. In the early hours of the morning of Saturday [November] 26, the funeral organizing commission will provide our people with detailed information regarding the posthumous tributes which will be paid to the founder of the Cuban Revolution.

¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

(Granma, November 26, 2016)

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Decree on National Period of Mourning

On the occasion of the passing of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba declares nine days of National Mourning, from 06:00 on 26 November to 12:00 on 4 December 2016.

During the Period of National Mourning, all public activities and performances will be suspended; the national standard will fly at half-mast at all public buildings and military establishments. Cuban Radio and Television will be airing informative, patriotic and historical programing.

(CubaMinrex, November 26, 2016)

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Press Release Regarding
Nationwide Tributes to Fidel

The Organizing Commission of the Central Committee of the Party, State and Government for the funeral rites of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, informs the populace that as of 28 November, from 09:00 until 22:00, at the José Martí Memorial, the population of the capital may present themselves to pay their respects in tribute to their leader. The hours will be extended until 29 November from 9:00 to 12:00.

On 28 and 29 November, from 09:00 to 22:00, at locations to be notified at the opportune time, in every city and town including the capital Havana, every Cuban will have the possibility of paying homage and signing the solemn oath to fulfill the Concept of Revolution expressed by our historical leader on the first of May of 2000, as expression of our will to continue his ideas and those of our Socialism.

On 29 November, at 19:00, a mass rally will be held in José Martí Revolution Square of Havana.

The following day, his ashes will be taken along the itinerary recalling The Caravan of Freedom of January 1959, to the province of Santiago de Cuba, to conclude on 3 December.

On 3 December, at 19:00, a mass rally will be held at Antonio Maceo Square.

Burial will take place at 07:00 on 4 December at the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery.

We also inform our people that the Military Review and the March of the Combative People for the 60th anniversary of the Landing of the Granma Expeditionaries, Revolutionary Armed Forces Day, will be postponed until 2 January of 2017.

(CubaMinrex-Granma, November 26, 2016)

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Vigils to Honour the Revolutionary
Life and Work of Fidel

Across the country, vigils have been organized to honour Fidel and express the profound solidarity of Canadians with the Cuban people and their revolution. Join in!

All events Sunday, November 27

7:00 pm

Cuban Consulate, 4546 Boulevard Décarie

6:00 - 8:00 pm

Embassy of the Republic of Cuba, 388 Main St.

5:00 - 6:30 pm

Cuban Consulate, 5353 Dundas St. W.

4:00 - 6:00 pm

CBC Plaza, 700 Hamilton St.

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Remembering the Life and Work of Fidel Castro

Statement of the Canadian Network on Cuba

Fidel in discussion with Five Cuban Heroes shortly after their return to Cuba, February 28, 2015.

It was with great sorrow and very heavy hearts that the Canada-Cuba solidarity and friendship movement received the news of the passing of Fidel Castro, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution. The profound sadness that we all feel in Canada is shared by the progressive, anti-war and social justice forces across the world.

Fidel is an integral member of the pantheon of champions of the people who made an indelible contribution to the global struggle for liberation and emancipation.

Fidel may be gone, but he lives on. Exemplifying the finest traditions of humanity, in the truest sense he belongs to the world.

While the heart of Fidel may have ceased beating on the night of Friday, November 25, his legacy and work continue in the Cuban Revolution, a living example that a better world is possible.

Fidel's life encapsulated the struggle of the exploited and oppressed. The legendary playwright Bertolt Brecht captured this essence when he wrote: "There are men who struggle for a day and they are good. There are men who struggle for a year and they are better. There are men who struggle many years, and they are better still. But there are those who struggle all their lives: These are the indispensable ones."

¡Viva Fidel! ¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

(November 26, 2016)

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Principles Are Worth More Than Life Itself

Speech given by President Fidel Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, at the closing session of the World Solidarity with Cuba Conference, held in the Karl Marx Theatre, on November 25, 1994, Year 36 of the Revolution.


Dear friends, and I say "dear friends" with great pleasure! It is difficult to summarize or make a synthesis of the contents of these conference days, but I can make some comments.

Throughout the last few days we have heard the best sentiments and the best ideas of this century, expressed as a call to battle, you could say. We have discussed many aspects arising from humanity's concerns over many years. In one way or another, you have expressed values for which humanity has battled and fought throughout this century now drawing to a close.

Throughout this conference, you have discussed the issues central to the long-fought struggles for independence and against colonialism, neocolonialism and imperialism -- the fight by the world's peoples for equality, for justice, for their development, for their sovereignty, never so threatened as today; the fight for social justice, the fight against exploitation, the fight against poverty, the fight against ignorance, the fight against disease, the fight for all vulnerable and dispossessed peoples; the fight for dignity, the fight for respect for women; the fight for unity among all peoples and races; the fight for peace -- all of these values and many more. Thus we could say that this has not been just a conference of solidarity with Cuba, and it fills us with pride that this solidarity has inspired such a discussion.

The best values of our time have been reflected at this meeting, and we have also seen the presence of many, though not all -- for there are so many that they would never fit into 1,000 or 10,000 theatres such as this one -- of the world's finest, most selfless and altruistic citizens, representatives of humanity's best. This meeting has been attended by persons with the highest human and moral sensibility.

I greatly admire humankind's capacity to give, to sacrifice, to show generosity, and each time we receive visitors to Cuba, I observe them, assess them and try to gauge how they are thinking and feeling. My admiration for so many human values never ceases.

Absent from this meeting are many, many people whom we know as friends, who have demonstrated their solidarity and who have been examples of sensitivity, solidarity and human generosity. But those traits remain the indelible, unforgettable impression that we will take away with us from this conference. How has this conference unfolded and developed? Everyone I have talked with has told me it has gone well; it has been unlike many of the other conferences we have had, where everyone who wanted to speak did so and the meetings became an interminable series of speeches, and although this meeting has witnessed many excellent, brilliant, profound and cogent speeches, an event many days longer and dedicated to letting everyone speak would not have had the same quality.

Thus there have been speeches, statements from the floor, questions and answers; we have had the working commissions on various themes; those who did not speak here spoke there, and a miracle has been worked to allow contributions from hundreds of people, although it was impossible for everyone to speak.

I think that the people who did speak more or less expressed the sentiments of everyone present. For that reason, we have to congratulate the organizers and leaders of this event, [applause] since in spite of differences, we have not had a Tower of Babel situation, and despite language diversity -- 109 countries are represented here, according to the information given out -- we have understood each other perfectly well, because, although we have different languages and even different political opinions, we were unanimous in the noble idea of solidarity with the Cuban people. [Applause]

The blockade has become the central issue of this event. Many people have talked on this subject; comrades have stated that there is nothing much to add about the blockade. But, essentially, what is the blockade? The blockade is not only the prohibition by the United States for any kind of commerce with our country -- whether it is technology or machinery; whether it is something more, food; whether it is medicine. The blockade means that they cannot sell to Cuba even an aspirin to relieve a headache, or an anti-cancer drug which could save lives or alleviate the suffering of the terminally ill; nothing, absolutely nothing can be sold to Cuba!

The blockade is not only the prohibition of all credits and finance facilities. The blockade is not only the total closure of economic, commercial and financial activities by the United States, the world's richest nation, the most powerful nation of the world in economic and military terms. It is not only just 90 miles off our coasts, but a few inches away from us, in the occupied territory of the Guantanamo naval base. The most powerful imperialist nation is not only close to us, but within Cuba; and it is not only close to us with its ideas, its theories, its concepts, its philosophy, but it is also among us in that minority which unfortunately supports the concepts, philosophy and ideas they have been disseminating for so many years throughout the world.

The United States does not trade with markets that trade with Cuba, but it does want to export ideas, and the worst ideas; it does not export foodstuffs to Cuba, it does not export medicines, technology or machinery to Cuba, but it does export incredible quantities of ideas. What is happening now is that before the ideas market was much wider, and it exported many ideas to the socialist bloc, to the former Soviet Union and other countries; these days the United States reserves its counter-revolutionary ideas for us, from a vast and powerful stock of enormous, infinite mass media programming. This trade is a one-way trade as we do not have that kind of mass media, those enormous communications systems which cost billions, ten of billions of dollars every year, which we are condemned to receive, not to exchange.

But the blockade is not only that; the blockade is an economic war waged against Cuba, an economic war; it is the tenacious, constant persecution of any Cuban economic deal made anywhere in the world. The United States actively operates, through its diplomatic channels, through its embassies, to put pressure on any country that wishes to trade with Cuba, or any business interest wishing to make commercial links with or invest in Cuba, to pressure and punish any boat transporting cargo to Cuba; it is a universal war, with an immense balance of power in its favour, against the economy of our country, going to the extreme of individual moves against persons or individuals who attempt to undertake any economic activity in relation to our country.

They euphemistically refer to it as an embargo; we call it a blockade, but it is not an embargo or a blockade; it is war! A war solely and exclusively waged against Cuba and against no other country in the world.

We have not only had to endure the blockade during the years of the Revolution; we have also had to endure incessant hostility in the political sphere, from attempts to eliminate the Revolution's leaders, through every known form of subversion and destabilization, to direct and perennial sabotage of our economy.

During the last 35 years, we have been the victims of every kind of sabotage. I am not just referring to piracy, mercenary invasion, dirty wars in the mountains and the plains, consistent and widespread destabilization attempts, but we have also been the victims of direct sabotage involving explosives and incendiary devices. Our country has also been subject to chemical warfare, through the introduction of toxic elements, and biological warfare via the introduction of plant, animal and human diseases. There are no weapons or resources that have not been used against our country and our Revolution by U.S. authorities and governments.

But you don't have to take my word for it. From time to time documents appear, papers that have been declassified after 25 years, although there are others that are kept for 50 or 100 years; some say they hold them back for 200 years, something for the grandchildren or the great-grandchildren or great-great-grandchildren of the current generation, who will one day learn about the barbarities which these "champions" of freedom, these "champions" of human rights have committed.

The war waged against the Cuban Revolution has been total and absolute, and it is not an old war; it is still being maintained, and plans are being made and carried out to sabotage our economy and our strategic industries.

Currently, organizations closely linked to the U.S. government are preparing to attack the Revolution's leaders -- nobody should think that this is a thing of the past, it's going on right now. They are planning dirty wars, armed mercenary infiltrations to kill, sabotage, create insecurity and to bring death to every part of our country. I am saying this in all seriousness, that such actions against Cuba are being planned by the United States. This amounts to something more, much more than an economic blockade.

All these policies come accompanied by an incessant defamation and slander campaign against our country, as a justification for their crimes. Now the fundamental emphasis is being put on the human rights banner; human rights are being quoted by those people who have committed and are committing all kinds of atrocities against our country.

As I recently stated to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with whom I conversed at length, the most brutal and cruel violation of the human rights of our people is being committed with the purpose of killing off 11 million Cubans or bringing them to their knees through hunger and disease!

The United States talking about human rights! They began by exterminating their earliest Indigenous or Native population. Who could forget that period and that tradition of collecting the scalps of American Indians? They killed more American Indians than buffalo, and they even finished off the buffalo. [Applause]

They expanded their country at the cost of other territories; they extended their country by grabbing land, thus dispossessing their neighbours, in one way or another, of millions of square kilometres of land. In terms of Mexico alone, they grabbed over half of its territory; they still occupy Puerto Rico; they have wanted to devour Cuba for over 150 years; they have intervened dozens of times in Latin American countries; they imposed a canal in Panama. This refers just to our hemisphere. I have not mentioned the wars in Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia and in many other places.

What a history! And what a paradox that they have just approved Proposition 187 -- this was not 100 years ago, nor 100 days ago, but just a few weeks ago -- to bar health care and education for undocumented children, for those families living in what was once Mexican territory. [Applause]

What respect for human rights are shown by these concepts? What ideas, what concepts about human beings? It's inconceivable that a child could fall ill and not be treated, when $300 billion are spent on the military budget and on the most sophisticated weapons ever known!

We don't have to look back in history. In contemporary times, since the start of the Revolution, what has been the history of the foreign policy of the United States, that "champion" of freedom, that "champion" of human rights? A close alliance with the most repressive and bloody regimes in the world.

If we turn to Europe, we can recall that immediately after World War I the United States became the ally of Spanish fascism, which was supplied with weapons from Hitler and Mussolini and which cost millions of lives.

We cannot overlook the U.S. alliance with South Viet Nam and its genocidal war against the Vietnamese people in the south and north of that country. We cannot overlook the Korean war, because Korea was completely demolished, reduced to dust. We cannot ignore Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the unnecessary use of nuclear weapons -- a completely unnecessary use which, in any event, could have been used against military installations but instead fell on civilian populations of hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. It rang in the era of atomic terror in the world.

We cannot forget the alliance with South Africa and apartheid. Neither can we forget that the apartheid regime built its own nuclear weapons, and when we were fighting in southern Angola against the apartheid army, alongside the Angolans, South Africa already had nuclear weapons, various nuclear weapons! The United States knew that South Africa had nuclear weapons and that those nuclear weapons could have been used against Cuban and Angolan soldiers. Ah! But this was the South Africa of racism and fascism.

The United States has created a great fuss and has even threatened war against North Korea, due to its assumption that the North Koreans were developing nuclear weaponry, but it tolerated, allowed and indirectly facilitated South Africa's building of nuclear weapons.

But if we come closer to our continent, and to recent times, who could forget the dirty war in Nicaragua, orchestrated via armed mercenaries, which cost tens of thousands of lives and the mutilation of thousands and thousands of Nicaraguans? Who could forget that? [Applause] The "champion" of freedom! The "champion" of human rights!

Who could forget the dirty war in El Salvador, the U.S. government support for a genocidal government to which it gave billions of dollars in sophisticated weapons to trample on the people's rebellion, a war that caused over 50,000 deaths?

And why did the Malvinas War happen? Simply because the United States had been using Argentina's 401st special forces battalion for its dirty war against Nicaragua and El Salvador, and it provided such exceptional service to the United States that the battalion felt it could occupy the Malvinas Islands.

This has nothing to do with Argentina's right to the Malvinas, which we have always defended. [Applause] But the Argentine military felt that the moment had come to collect from the United States for services rendered in Central America, so that the former would back them in their military adventure. It was an adventure, in fact, because in the final analysis that is not the way to wage war. You either wage war or you don't. And if you wage war you take it to its ultimate consequences, if it's a just war. [Applause] And they invaded the Malvinas Islands. But when the United States was put into the position of choosing between its allies and its British forebears, they chose and backed the British.

Who can forget what has happened in Guatemala since Arbenz' government in the '50s, [applause] when a popular government chosen by the people was trying to carry out agrarian reform to help campesinos and Indigenous communities? Immediately the dirty war broke out and they were invaded by mercenaries. And what has happened since then? What has happened up until now? Over 100,000 people have disappeared. This is a country where for decades there were no political prisoners because everyone disappeared. To this day, who supplies this government, who trains it, who prepares it? The "champion" of freedom, the "champion" of human rights. What happened in Chile with Salvador Allende's government, which had great popular support? [Applause] They plotted against him, the economy was blocked in many ways and conditions were gradually created for a coup which gave the country thousands and thousands of disappeared persons and murders.

And what happened in Argentina with that military government I mentioned? They say at least 15,000 disappeared [the audience tells him "30,000!"]. I say "at least," because I don't want people to think I'm exaggerating and yet many say there were 30,000; and some people here are saying even more. But let's take my figures as the minimum. Are 15,000 disappeared really a small amount?

And who provided weapons to this government, who backed it, who gave it political support, who made use of their services in Central America? The "champions" of freedom, the "champions" of human rights!

And what happened in Uruguay? And what happened in Brazil? And who supported the coup leaders and those who tortured and killed people and made them "disappear"? Who invaded the Dominican Republic at the time of the Caamano rebellion? [Applause] Who invaded Grenada? [Applause] Who invaded Panama? [Applause] The "champions" of freedom and human rights!

Which of those governments was harassed? Which of the governments I named have been blockaded? Which of them have been denied credit and trade? Which was denied the purchase of weapons and war materiel? Who didn't they train in so-called antisubversive action? Who didn't they train in the arts of crime, disappearances and torture? And these are the ones who blockade Cuba, who slander Cuba, who accuse Cuba of human rights violations to justify their crimes against our people.

And I can say dispassionately, without being subjective, that Cuba is the country that has done the most for human beings. [Prolonged applause and shouts]

What revolution was more noble? What revolution was more generous? What revolution showed most respect for people? And I'm not only talking about a victorious revolution in power, but since the time of our own war, of our own revolutionary struggle, which established inviolable principles, because what made us revolutionaries was rejection of injustice, the rejection of crime and the rejection of torture. During the 25 months that our intense war lasted, in which we captured thousands of prisoners, there was not one case of physical violence to obtain information, not even in the midst of the war [applause]; there was not one case of killing a prisoner. What we would do with prisoners is set them free -- we would keep their weapons, which was all we were interested in, and we treated these arms suppliers with all the consideration they deserved [laughter and applause]. At first they had been led to believe that we would kill them all, and in fact they would resist up to the bitter end. But when they discovered during the course of the war the true behaviour of the Rebel Army, they would give up their weapons with less of a struggle when they were surrounded, when they knew they had lost. Some of those soldiers surrendered three times, because they were switched from one front to the other and they were used to surrendering, they had experience. [Laughter and applause]

But the most important thing is that the Cuban Revolution has maintained the principles of never resorting to torture, of never stooping to crime, without exception to this day [applause], no matter what they say, no matter what they write. We know that a lot of this slander has been written by people in the CIA's pay.

Are there many other examples like it in history? In the world's history there have been many revolutions and in general they were rough, very rough: England's civil wars, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War and the Mexican Revolution. We know quite a bit about revolutions and many books have been written about them and about counterrevolutions. Well, one does not even speak of counterrevolutions. Revolutions tend to be generous and counterrevolutions are unfailingly merciless. Just ask the members of the Paris Commune. [Applause]

In the case of Cuba there has not been one exception. In the whole history of the Revolution, there has not been one single case of torture -- and I mean that literally -- not one political murder, not one disappearance. In our country we do not have the so-called death squads that sprout like mushrooms in this hemisphere's countries. [Audience names several countries] You speak for us! [Applause] We prefer not to mention names, but everything has happened in our hemisphere.

Why is there no mention made of the United States, where people have been brutally murdered for defending civil rights, men like Martín Luther King and many others, a country where as a rule only blacks and Hispanics are given the death sentence?

Our country does not have the phenomena we see in others, such as children murdered on the streets allegedly to avoid the spectacle of begging and apparently to fight crime. The Revolution eradicated begging, the Revolution eliminated gambling, the Revolution eliminated drugs, the Revolution did away with prostitution.

Yes, unfortunately there can be some cases or tendencies that due to the economic difficulties, and the opening to numerous outside contacts encourages some "jineteras". We do not deny this, and from time to time some may turn up on 5th Avenue, but one should not confuse decent people with jineteras. [Applause] Such cases exist but we fight against it. We do not tolerate prostitution; we do not legalize prostitution. [Applause]

There may be some children, encouraged by their parents, who approach tourists and ask them for gum or something else; these are phenomena that we experience due to the special situation that we are living in, at a time of great economic difficulties as the blockade has been strengthened. But these things were not known during the normal times of the Revolution.

You won't see people sleeping in doorways, covered with newspapers, regardless of our present poverty. There is not a single human being abandoned or without social security, regardless of our present great poverty. [Applause] The vices we see every day in capitalist societies do not exist in our country. This is an achievement of the Revolution.

There is not one child without a school or a teacher, there is not one single citizen who does not receive medical care, starting before birth. Here we start medical care for our citizens when they are still in their mothers' wombs, right from the first weeks after conception. [Applause]

We are the country in the world with the most doctors per capita, regardless of the special period, [applause] and I'm not only referring to the Third World, but to the whole world! More than the Scandinavians, more than the Canadians and all those who are at the top rankings in public health. By reducing infant mortality from sixty to ten per 1,000 live births and with other paediatric programs, the Revolution has saved the lives of more than 300,000 children.

We have the most teachers per capita in the world, [applause] regardless of the hardships we suffer; we have the most art teachers per capita in the world; we are the country with the most physical education and sports teachers per capita. [Applause]

That is the country that is being blockaded, that is the country that they are trying to bring to its knees through hunger and disease.

Some demand that, in order for them to lift the blockade, we must surrender, we must renounce our political principles, we must renounce socialism and our democratic forms. [Shouts of "No!" "Never!"]

Furthermore, quite a confusing document was issued at the Rio Conference, despite the noble efforts against it by countries like Brazil, Mexico and others. It was supported by some countries that were very, very hand-in-glove with the United States; I don't want to mention any names. It is a document with a certain degree of confusion which leaves room for erroneous interpretations, and some interpret it as supporting the U.S. position of conditioning the blockade's suspension on Cuba making political changes.

Political changes? Is there a country that has made more political changes than we have? What is a Revolution, if it's not the most profound and extraordinary of political changes? [Applause] We made this Revolution over 35 years ago, and during those 35 years we have been carrying out political changes, not in search of a formal, alienating democracy which divides peoples and splits them up, but rather a democracy that really unites peoples and gives viability to what is most important and essential, which is public participation in fundamental issues. [Applause] Furthermore, we recently made modifications to the Constitution, based on the principle that the people nominate and the people elect. [Applause]

I'm not criticizing anybody, but nearly all over the world, including Africa, they are introducing Western political systems, together with neoliberalism and neocolonialism and all those other things, [to] people who have never heard of Voltaire, Danton, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, nor the philosophers of U.S. independence -- and remember that Bolivar in our own hemisphere was very much against the mechanical copying of the European and U.S. systems, which have brought catastrophe, division, subordination and neocolonialism to our countries. We can see societies splitting into thousands of pieces, societies that should be united in their efforts to develop have ended up not only with a multiparty system but with hundreds and even thousands of parties.

We have worked, we've developed our own system, which we did not copy from anyone. We established the principle that those who nominate in the first instance are the residents. One may or may not agree, but it is as respectable as the Greek democracy that people talk so much about and without slaves or serfs. Because Greek democracy consisted of just a few that would meet in the plaza, and they had to be few, because in those days they did not have microphones, and they would get together to have an election right there. [Laughter and applause] Neither the slaves nor the serfs participated, nor do they today.

When you analyze the electoral results in the United States you discover that they have just elected a new Congress, where undoubtedly there are worrying tendencies toward conservatism and the extreme right, but those are internal matters in the United States. The truth of the matter is, I can assure you, I promise you, we have not made it a condition that the United States renounce its system in order to normalize relations. [Laughter and applause] Just imagine if we told them that they had to have at least 80 per cent of the electorate voting. Thirty-eight per cent decided to vote and the rest said, "I'm going to the beach," or "I'm going to the movies," [Laughter] or "I'm going home to rest." This is what happened to the "champions" of freedom, human rights and civil rights. [Applause]

It is very much the same in many countries of Latin America. Many people don't even vote. The slaves and the servants say: "What am I going to vote for, if I'm still going to be just the same?"

How difficult it is for us to come to an agreement! Because it's certain that the influence of the mass media is greater all the time and the series of obstacles that the popular forces have to overcome are increasingly difficult.

However, 95 per cent of Cuban citizens vote in our elections and nobody forces them to vote. Even those who are not with the Revolution go and vote, although they may turn in a blank ballot, so as not to vote for this one or for the other; or they vote for one or they vote for the other.

Right now, in our nation, I repeat once again, the local residents nominate the candidates, the people nominate the candidates and the people elect them. In this way, the possibilities of any citizen being elected are infinitely greater than in any other country. One good example: I was talking with a Mexican delegation and they said to me: "The youngest of our deputies was here." "How old is he?" They told me: "Twenty-five years old." I was really astounded, but then I suddenly remembered that we have a number of deputies under the age of 20, because the students, from secondary school onwards, take part in the process of selecting candidates, as do all the mass organizations. [Applause].

The campesinos take part in the process of selecting candidates; the women's organization takes part in the process of selecting candidates; the trade unions take part in the process of selecting candidates; the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution take part in the process of selecting candidates and there are numerous students who are deputies to the National Assembly and women, campesinos, workers and intellectuals, from all sectors. It isn't the Party that puts up the candidates. The Party does not put up the candidates nor does it elect them. It oversees the elections to make sure that all of the principles and the rules are observed; but it does not take part in any of these electoral processes. That is the situation in our country.

In one of the most recent modifications made in the electoral process, a candidate has to win more than 50 per cent of the valid votes to become a deputy.

[Ricardo] Alarcón was explaining some of these things, when he recalled, with a magazine that he had in his hand -- he has the advantage of speaking English and he reads a U.S. magazine now and again [laughter] -- how one man had spent $25 million in a campaign to become a member of the U.S. Congress. What kind of democracy is that? How many people have $25 million to spend on a campaign? And in Cuba candidates don't even need to spend $25, although any citizen might have to pay the bus fare to go and vote on the day of the elections. [Applause]

What kind of democracy is it that requires one to be a millionaire to be able to have all the resources with which to speak and persuade the people to vote for you, and then the candidate doesn't remember those who voted for him until the next elections four or five years later; he doesn't think about them ever again; he forgets them.

In our country people can be removed from their posts, and the same applies to a municipal delegate as well as the highest official. Anyone can be elected, but they can also be dismissed from those posts. That is our system, which we don't expect all the other countries to apply; it would be absurd to try to make it a model; but it is the system that we have adopted; nobody imposed it on us, no U.S. governor or supervisor came here to establish an electoral code as they did before.

We drew up the Constitution ourselves, [applause] we drew up the electoral code ourselves, we have planned the system ourselves and we have developed it ourselves, which is what you have been defending: the right of a country to establish the regulations, the economic, political and social system that it considers to be appropriate. Anything else in the world is impossible, anything else is absurd, any other aim is insane and these lunatics go around trying to get everyone to do exactly the same as them, and we don't like their way of doing things. [Applause]

That is why for us the question of ending the blockade in exchange for political concessions, concessions that correspond to the sovereignty of our country, is unacceptable. It is absolutely unacceptable, it is outrageous, it is exasperating and really, we would rather perish than give up our sovereignty. [Prolonged applause]

We have had the blockade for many years; however, it is necessary to think about one fact: there was one world when the Revolution triumphed; today, 35 years later, there is another world. The world changed and didn't progress, it retrogressed, because the bipolar world wasn't to anyone's liking, but the unipolar world is much less to our liking.

When the Revolution triumphed, there was a bipolar world. The United States imposed the blockade on us from almost the first moments. It began by doing away with the sugar markets, and it cut off our supply of fuel. Imagine the new Revolution in those circumstances! Of course they cut off our supply of machinery, of spare parts, of everything, but there was the USSR and the socialist bloc.

That was lucky for us, because faced with the U.S. blockade, 90 miles away, there was another power in the world, another movement in the world which had a revolutionary origin and which was at odds with U.S. imperialism. Thanks to that movement we could find markets for our sugar, supplies of oil, raw materials, food, many things. That was explained here.

We were paid preferential prices; however, it is necessary to say that not only Cuba was paid preferential prices. The Lomé Convention established preferential prices for sugar and other products for many countries which were ex-colonies. In the United States itself, when it was a major sugar market, there were also preferential prices, before they snatched away our quota and redistributed it throughout Latin America and other parts of the world. Eighty per cent of the sugar in the world is traded through preferential prices. And very much in accordance with the principles of their political doctrine, the socialist countries paid us preferential prices.

That was the policy which we defended for all of the countries of the Third World, because it was the only way of reducing the great difference that existed between the developed countries and the underdeveloped countries. It was a demand of the world, it was a demand of all the countries of the Third World. And even so it was mutually advantageous, because although they paid us preferential prices, it cost more to produce sugar in the Soviet Union than the prices they paid us for sugar. But at any rate, we benefited from those preferential prices, and we used the money to purchase fuel, raw materials and many things.

In our situation it so happened that the USSR and the socialist bloc collapsed and the blockade got stronger. As long as the socialist bloc and the USSR existed we managed better, we could endure the difficulties. Our economy even grew under those conditions throughout nearly 30 years and attained an extraordinary social development.

However, it was in that world that the Cuban Revolution was born. There was no other, there were no other alternatives, in the midst of the country being blockaded by the most powerful country in the world. That is why the disappearance of the socialist bloc and the USSR was such a terrible blow for us, given that the existing blockade was not only maintained but was also strengthened. For that reason our country lost 70 per cent of our imports, and I wonder if any other country in the world would have been able to withstand a similar blow, and I wonder how many days they would have been able to withstand it -- a week, two weeks or a month. [Applause] How would we have been able to if it hadn't been for the people's support for the Revolution? How would we be able to withstand it without our political system, without our democratic system, without the people's direct participation in all of the fundamental issues, which is true democracy? [Applause]

Which other Latin American country could have been able to withstand the abrupt 70 per cent drop in imports? Would any European country have been able to endure a similar trial? The politicians would have abandoned their principles and capitulated in an instant; but we have dignity, we have a sense of honour and we stick to our principles. [Applause] For us these principles are worth more than life itself and we have never sold out our principles, never! [Applause]

When we helped the Central American revolutionaries, the United States said that they would remove the blockade if we stopped helping them, and nothing of the kind ever crossed our minds. [Applause] On other occasions they said that they would be prepared to remove the blockade if we stopped helping Angola and other African countries, and the idea of selling out our relations with other countries never crossed our minds. On other occasions, they said they would remove the blockade if we broke off our links with the Soviet Union, and it never occurred to us to do anything of the kind, because we are not a party or a political leadership that sells out its principles. The blockade will never end at that price, because it is a price that we are not prepared to pay.

That situation led us to the special period.

We had been working on some excellent programs before the socialist catastrophe, excellent programs in all fields; we were carrying out a process of rectification of errors and negative tendencies, of old errors and new errors, of old tendencies and new tendencies, and we were working very intensely when that debacle led us into what we could call a double blockade, because as soon as the breakup of the socialist bloc and the breakup of the USSR occurred and even before the breakup of the USSR, the United States was strongly pressuring those countries to stop trading with Cuba, and when the USSR finally disintegrated, the United States put on extreme pressure, and not without success, to cut off trade and economic relations between the countries of the old socialist bloc, the USSR and Cuba.

So our country found itself enveloped in a double blockade and, nevertheless, we had to save the nation, we had to save the Revolution and we had to save socialism -- we talk about saving the gains of socialism, because we can't say at this time that we are building socialism, but rather that we are defending what we have done, we are defending our achievements. This is a fundamental objective in a world that has changed in such a radical way, in which all the power of the United States has been turned against us; because, for example, they don't impose conditions on China, a huge country, an immense country, which defends the ideas of socialism; they don't impose conditions on Viet Nam, a marvellous and heroic country. Today there is no blockade against them, but there is a blockade against us. Put yourselves in the place of our Party and our government. And in these such difficult conditions that have never existed before, we must save the nation, save the Revolution and save the achievements of socialism.

What measures would it be necessary to take in this world which exists today and which, of course, won't always exist? Those are illusions held by those who believe that neoliberalism is already the nec plus ultra, that it is the be-all and end-all for capitalism; these are illusions that they have. [Applause] The world will teach us many lessons. What is going to happen with all of this would take a long time to explain, and would be much too long for us to bring up now, but for them it's never-ending.

Now they talk about the globalization of the economy. We'll see what is left from this globalization for the countries of the Third World, with the disappearance of all the current defense mechanisms of the Third World, which must compete with the technology and the immense development of the industrialized capitalist countries. Now the industrialized countries will try more than ever to exploit the natural resources and the cheap work force of the Third World, to accumulate more and more capital. However, it is superdeveloped capitalism, like in Europe, for example, that has more unemployed people all the time, and the more development, the more unemployed there are. What will happen with our countries? There will be a globalization of the differences, of the social injustice, the globalization of poverty.

However, this is the world we've got, with which we must trade and exchange our products, in which we have to survive. That is why we must adapt to that world and adopt those measures which we consider essential, with a very clear objective.

This is not to say that everything that we are doing is solely the result of the new situation. We have made changes as we go along, and even the idea of introducing foreign capital came up before the special period: we had realized that specific areas, specific fields could not be developed because there wasn't the capital or the technology to do so, because the socialist countries didn't have them. However, we have had to open up more, we have had to create what we could call a pretty large opening to foreign investment. That was explained here: in Cuba's circumstances today, without capital, without technology and without markets, we couldn't develop. Hence, all of the measures, changes and reforms that we have been making, in one way or another have the objective, as was stated in this conference, of safeguarding our independence and the Revolution, because the Revolution is the source of everything, and the achievements of socialism, which is to say to preserve socialism or the right to continue constructing socialism when circumstances allow it. [Prolonged applause]

We are making changes, but without giving up our independence and sovereignty; [applause] we are making changes, but without giving up the real principle of a government of the people, by the people and for the people, that, translated into revolutionary language, is the government of the workers, by the workers and for the workers. [Prolonged applause and shouts of "Fidel, Fidel!"] It's not a government of the bourgeoisie, by the bourgeoisie and for the bourgeoisie; nor a government of the capitalists, by the capitalists and for the capitalists; nor a government of the transnationals, by the transnationals and for the transnationals; nor a government of the imperialists, by the imperialists and for the imperialists. [Applause]

That is the big difference, whatever changes and reforms we carry out. If some day we renounced all this, we would be renouncing the lifeblood of the Revolution.

We have shown solidarity with the world; it's not our task now to talk about this solidarity. As far as our solidarity is concerned, we should do the most and talk the least, because we're not going to make any apology for our conduct.

A few minutes ago, before starting the final part of this event, a comrade said: "Look at how many things Cuba has done! When visitors from one country or another talk, when they talk about doctors, students, people that were trained here, in one activity or another, it is clear that in these years our country has carried out many things. For us, solidarity and internationalism are a matter of principle, and a sacred one at that." [Applause]

To provide an example, I'm going to give a few statistics. More than 15,000 Cuban doctors have given free services in dozens of countries in these years of the Revolution, more than 15,000 doctors have fulfilled internationalist missions as doctors; [applause] more than 26,000 teachers and professors. I ask if any other small country, and even medium or big countries, has had this record.

Suffice it to say that at one point we had three times more doctors working for free in the Third World than did the World Health Organization, [applause] and we didn't have a lot of resources either, only minimum resources. We only had the honour of our health workers, with their internationalist calling. How many lives have they saved? And I wonder, is it fair to blockade a country that has done this? [Shouts of "No!"]

How many hundreds of thousands of children have we educated with our teachers in foreign countries? And we haven't only sent primary and secondary school teachers, but university professors; we have founded medical schools in diverse countries of the world. Is it fair to blockade a country that has done all this, and still does it to a certain degree? Half a million Cubans have completed internationalist missions of different types, half a million Cubans! [Applause]

The Africans have been very generous, very noble, and have wanted to recall here Cuba's solidarity and aid in the war against colonialism, the war against foreign aggression, the war against apartheid and racism.

Like I said here, our soldiers were fighting in southern Angola, 40,000 men, 40,000 men! [Applause] They were fighting alongside the Angolan troops, who acted and fought heroically. There were Cubans in southern Angola facing up to the South Africans after the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, and when our counter-offensive was launched in southwest Angola, these men were exposed to the possibility of nuclear warfare. We knew it, and the distribution of forces in that offensive took into account the possibility that the enemy could use nuclear weapons.

At one point we had 25,000 foreign students in our universities. [Applause] Cuba was the country with more scholarships per capita than anywhere else in the world, and we didn't brag about it; we just went on our way, fulfilling the task of education as Martí taught us, and we did what we could for other countries.

I think that this extraordinary conference, your noble, generous words of solidarity reflect in part the history of our own Revolution's solidarity. [Applause] This has greatly encouraged us and gives us the strength to keep going.

There are a lot of choices in this day and age: the choice of freedom, the choice of sovereignty, the choice of independence, and the choice of social justice.

Social justice is acquiring such force as an idea -- in the midst of neoliberalism, which is the negation of every principle of justice -- that even some international agencies talk about it. The Inter-American Development Bank talks more and more about the need for social justice in this hemisphere. Even the World Bank is talking about social justice! They're the champions of neoliberalism and they talk about social justice, because they realize that the differences are so great and are still growing, and they would like to make the dream of neoliberalism come true, of capitalism with social justice. They're afraid that misery, hunger and poverty will undermine the bases of the neoliberalism that they praise so much, and that is why they talk about social justice.

But we know that only the people can achieve social justice, and that neoliberalism and social justice are incompatible, they're irreconcilable; [applause] that a superdeveloped world next to an underdeveloped world is incompatible, irreconcilable. We know that the former will get richer and richer, while the latter will get poorer and poorer, and this is an irrefutable reality.

Your presence here shows that just ideas live on, that noble ideas live on, that values live on. And we have to multiply these ideas and values just like Jesus Christ multiplied the loaves and fishes. [Applause] The church talks about giving opportunities to the poor, and this seems excellent to us, but I think that today's world needs more than choices: it needs energetic, tenacious and consistent struggle by the poor themselves. [Applause and shouts of "Fidel, Fidel!"] I should have said "churches"instead of "the church," considering that we're not only talking about the Catholic church.

We must wage an unending battle against the causes of poverty, [applause] an inexorable offensive against capitalism, against neoliberalism, against imperialism, [applause] until the day when we can no longer speak of billions of human beings who are hungry, who don't have schools, hospitals, a roof over their head, or even the most elemental means of living.

This planet is getting close to having six billion inhabitants; in one century the population has increased fourfold. The threats that humanity suffers today are multiple, not only social, but economic, political and military.

Someone here was saying that nowadays they call wars "humanitarian missions" or "peace operations." Wars threaten us from all sides, interventions threaten us from all sides; but the world is also being threatened by destruction of the natural conditions for life, the destruction of the environment, a problem which is getting more and more attention and increasingly moves the conscience of humanity. We will have to make a huge effort in every sense of the word to save humanity from all these risks.

And what is the historical origin of this situation? Could anyone deny that it was colonialism, neocolonialism and imperialism? Could anyone deny that it was capitalism? We are very conscious of all this, despite the setbacks suffered by the progressive movement, the revolutionary movement and the socialist movement.

But we'll say it here and now, dear friends. We will never return to capitalism! [Applause] Not to savage capitalism -- or as Perez Esquivel likes to call it, cannibal capitalism -- or to moderate capitalism, if this exists; we don't want to go back, and we won't go back! [Applause]

We know what our duties and obligations are. We've withstood almost five hard years already, when others thought the Cuban Revolution would quickly disappear off the face of the earth. We're working persistently and harder all the time, and even putting more and more emphasis on the subjective, on our own errors, our own deficiencies; emphasizing the subjective so that the objective doesn't become a pretext for deficiencies.

We've still got to raise the consciousness of our people. We still have to explain why we need to reduce the excess currency in circulation and the methods used to continue gathering up the excess without using shock therapy; we have to look for efficiency in agriculture and industry.

I know that the issue about food production has been a worry of yours, expressed here. I must say that we are obliged to produce food without fertilizers, without pesticides, without weedkillers, often without fuel, resorting to animal traction, faced with the need to feed the 80 per cent of the population living in urban zones. Cuba, unlike Viet Nam or China, has only 20 per cent of the population in the countryside and 80 per cent in the cities. They have the inverse, 75 to 80 per cent in the countryside and 20 to 25 per cent in the cities.

We even have a labour shortage in rural areas. Our agriculture and sugar industry had been mechanized, like many other sectors of the economy. Someone asked whether we should produce sugar or not. We don't have any other choice than to produce sugar, we have to produce it; now, it has become more expensive for the sugar mills and machines to produce less because of a lack of fertilizer and irrigation, for example. In general, we know how to produce food, but we've had to deal with a great scarcity of supplies for food production.

We've had to develop other areas. Tourism has already been mentioned here. It has become a necessity, although it wasn't promoted in the first years of the Revolution, because it has its good side and its bad side. And since we can't live with the hope of being in an ivory tower, we have to get mixed up with the problems of this world. And, based on the idea that virtue is born of the struggle against vice, just as magnificent flowers bloom from cow dung, [applause] we have to get used to living with all these types of problems. We have to look for resources in convertible currency to make these supplies available.

The livestock has been left without feed, without irrigated land, without fuel.

The problems we've had to deal with aren't easy, but we're handling it, sharing the little we have among many, rather than a lot among a few. [Applause] We've been sharing what we have. And then, under these incredibly difficult conditions -- I repeat, there is not a single school without a teacher, not a child without a school, not a patient without a doctor or hospital; we maintain social security, we maintain our cultural development, the development of sports; we even came in fifth place in the Olympic Games in the midst of the special period. [Applause] This gives you an idea of our strength in exceptionally difficult conditions.

Therefore, when we share the little we have among everyone, a lot of things can be done, and there are many countries in the world that have much more than we do and do very few things. [Applause]

This event concludes, really, like an unforgettable lesson for all of us, and we hope for a lot, we hope for so much from this battle that you propose to fight shoulder to shoulder with us to end the blockade, to end the hostility against our country, to defend hope. Not because we have been predestined to be anyone's hope. We don't consider ourselves a people bound by destiny; we constitute a small people, a modest people, to whom history has in these particular circumstances assigned the role of what we're defending: our most sacred ideals, our most sacred rights. You all see this as hope.

We understand what it would mean for all the progressive forces, for all the revolutionary forces, for all lovers of peace and justice in the world if the United States succeeded in crushing the Cuban Revolution, and because of this we consider defending the Revolution along with you to be our most sacred duty, even at the cost of death.

Thank you, thank you very much, a million thank yous. [Applause]

And let me exclaim one more time:

Socialism or Death!
Patria o Muerte!
Long Live Solidarity!

[Shouts of "Long Live Solidarity!"


(Discussion Quarterly, Winter 1994, Volume 1 Number 2)

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One Hundred Images of the Cuban Revolution -- 1953-1996

Fidel and Raúl Castro and Che Guevara in photo which appears on cover of
Cien Imagenes de la Revolucion Cubana

This gallery opens with a shot of concentrated intensity: August 1, 1953 a young Fidel Castro appears in La Vivac [prison] in Santiago de Cuba, and behind him on the wall, in an inexplicable coincidence that his jailers were unable to avoid, looms the face of Martí. The last photo, dated May 1, 1996, captures the crowd in Revolution Square in Havana through a ray of light, as if the contained energy of the initial image had burst out and was being manifested in that public space.

Fidel Castro, Vivac Prison, 1953

Altogether the photos cover four decades in which the history of Cuba seems to intensify and move at a faster pace, with symbols and legends marking every moment: four decades in which Cubans have given themselves body and soul, without any pettiness, to an adventure of transformation, combat and creation, where the personal route of each has become incorporated into the collective journey, and they have faced the impossible without fear, over and over again, conquered their many demons and put into that hard, heady and full life, that unique life, the very best of themselves.

In January 1960 Nicolás Guillén confessed to being perplexed by the curious quality that time took on in that first year of the victorious Revolution: '59 passed "as fast as lightning," but was made up of "pregnant" and "compact" days. In just twelve months there was something substantial that had changed in the air, on the land of the island, and especially in its people: "We are witnessing the birth of a new sensibility, rooted in an uncommon conception of civic duty" the poet tells us, and it is a sensibility that is manifested in another way of practicing cubanía, of understanding patriotism, of engaging in private and public honesty.

The people who we discover in these pictures, in the trenches, in the harvest, in volunteer work, in marches and rallies, bring with them (and it is a hidden privilege that the photographers managed to capture) a very precise, well-defined consciousness of the significance of their actions, of the greater coherence that individuals, their ideals and their works, take on when a true Revolution is undertaken. They are radically changing the destiny of an island that seemed doomed to debasement and disintegration, and at the same time they understand that it involves a major war, a duel with the impossible that goes beyond the island's borders. "Every man," points out Nicholás, "every woman and even every child knows what they have in their hands and is of no mind to let it be snatched from them."[1]

A curious synthesis between political commitment and other areas of humanity are externalized in many of the photos that comprise our gallery: the protagonists of these images show themselves in their multiple dimensions, in their completeness. You have (to explain it better and more eloquently) the uniformed militiawoman carrying her son with the utmost tenderness imaginable, and the wedding of the militiaman, smiling at the jokes of his compañeros, at the risks and hardships awaiting him in some camp, and at History with a capital H as well as his personal history (or are they one and the same?) as he passes arm in arm with his bride under an archway of guns.

The Cuban of the '60s becomes better, more complete, and is uplifted with happiness at his own condition. We see him grow in these pictures, not only politically; we see him achieve a dignified and human dimension he had not known before. We see how the sparkle in his eye (that spark of feeling, of quick-wittedness, of insight) becomes more transparent, sharper and dignified. We will not find frozen, papier maché heroes in our hundred photos: at every step we are struck by the authenticity, the strength, the vibration that comes from within to the surface, from deep down to behaviour.

First Declaration of Havana, Speech by Fidel Castro, Revolution Square, September 2, 1960.

In this gallery the growth of the Cuban is presented to us in two ways: in the expressions, the gestures, the demeanour of anonymous characters caught by the camera, and the multitudinous acts that lend weight and meaning to a new symbolic space born in 1959: what was Civic Square in the colonial days of farce, crime and the negation of public spirit is re-baptized José Martí Revolution Square and becomes an exceptional arena of exchange between the popular masses and their leaders. Che left us a description of that "almost intuitive method" of communication:

"The master of it is Fidel, whose particular way of integrating with the people can be appreciated only by seeing him in action. In large public gatherings you can observe something like the dialogue of two tuning forks whose vibrations induce other, new ones in each other. Fidel and the mass of people begin to vibrate in a dialogue of increasing intensity until it comes to a climax in an abrupt ending crowned with our battle cries and shouts of victory."[2]

The Korda photo titled El Quijote de la farola [Quixote of the Street Lamp] picks up a scene from July 26, 1959, and tells us something more. About two months earlier, in La Plata, in the Sierra Maestra, Fidel and the Council of Ministers signed the Agrarian Reform Law, and now the first mass rally to commemorate the assault on the Moncada has been organized. Havana and Revolution Square are filled with campesinos who have come from all over the island. As in the best of our hundred images, the Quixote in the straw hat who reigns above the crowd with his gangly, lanky figure, half-smoked cigar and the expression of one who lives in harmony with himself and his destiny, draws us to the specific circumstances (the gathering of peasants, the Agrarian Reform) and at the same time conjures up a metaphor that goes beyond the situation and the characters photographed.

With a quixotic campesino planted for eternity atop a lamp post, the gentleman of the utopias, the knight on an unsightly skinny nag who attacks injustice and the impossible in an unequal fight with the weapons of his great-grandfathers and a cardboard trap, enters the book and must undo the schemes of so many priests, barbers and bachelors who want to tie him (tie us) to conformism, to the philosophy of submission, to the mediocre wisdom of half-wits and those of mutilated spirit.

There is a lot of non-conformist, combative quixotism in the Cuba that defends her rights against all odds. The National Press, founded in 1960, was inaugurated with the publication of 400,000 copies of The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, in four volumes, which were sold (twenty-five cents each) in newsstands. In this way the people who were able to overcome another impossible, illiteracy, could read the immortal novel by Cervantes, and the last knight-errant became a familiar presence among us. Rarely has a great literary work had such a rich, prolific and mass reception. "Once again I feel the ribs of Rocinante under my heels," announces Che to his parents before leaving for the Congo: "I am returning to the road, with my shield on my arm."[3]

Fidel signs the Agrarian Reform Law in the Sierra Maestra in 1959.

If in the name of the meek ox who every morning chooses without question the yoke and the delicious, bountiful oats, if in the name of bourgeois good sense being a "Quixote" is equal to the worst of insults, the Revolution assumes that symbol naturally, in its noblest and most creative sense. On the strength of the No that keeps appearing in the Cuban ethical tradition, in the No that refuses to give up in the face of the most adverse circumstances and rejects the impossible at the mere mention of it, there is an obstinate and fertile quixotism present. In tracing the Cuban ethical tradition Cintio Vitier interprets the Baraguá Protest in light of that No that shines in the best of cubanía. When in 1878 the possibilities of continuing the struggle for independence seemed to have been exhausted,

"the 'impossible' rose up to face Cuba and provoked the more profound and creative possibility: Antonio Maceo's No, the negation of the negation, in Mangos de Baraguá. His refusal to accept the objective facts that seemed to definitively close the door to the Revolution allowed him to open an airway for the homeland. All the fabled military feats of Maceo pale before the sheer moral majesty of the Baraguá Protest, an image cemented in the pride and hope of the people, a new foundation for Cuba by an act of revolutionary faith."[4]

"For our people nothing is impossible anymore," said Fidel, in front of the Presidential Palace, January 20, 1961, in greeting the militias on their return to civilian life after a massive mobilization. In a similar event, the same day, in Santiago de Cuba, Raúl declared: "We destroyed the myth that without the Americans we would die of hunger."[5] While these events are being celebrated in Havana and Santiago, the last U.S. diplomats are leaving for home, after the break in relations, their withdrawal reaffirming that indeed nothing is impossible anymore; the evil myths have been smashed: geographic fatalism, the laws of annexationist gravitation, the "infernal spells."

With Moncada, according to José Lezama Lima, those "spells" that immobilized the Cuban begin to dissipate. The Revolution bestowed the potens ("that which is infinitely possible") which boiled down to the unlimited potentialities of man, his capacity for a poetic and historical creation of an unexplored magnitude:

"Now that possibility, that potens has been acquired by the Cuban [...]. The Cuban Revolution signifies that all the negative spells have been decapitated. The ring that fell into the pond, like in the ancient mythologies, has been found again."[6]

One of the spells that needed to be decapitated, the most diabolical and paralyzing spell of the impossible, was summed up in a phrase often repeated during the neo-colonial republic: "The Americans are not going to permit this." It was the syndrome of the Platt Amendment, the Damocles sword of the intervention, which survived the ominous constitutional appendix and became a substantive part of an imbecilic, dependent culture. The Plattist philosophy of the they-are-not-going-to-permit-this..., had suffered serious blows with the Agrarian Reform, the nationalization of the Yankee corporations and other revolutionary measures, but it was definitively defeated in the days of Girón, that appear here with the power and quick chronology of a series of prints: April 15, the bombardments and the copious blood of the militia fighter Eduardo García Delgado[7]; the 16th, the event at the corner of 23rd and 12th, at the burial of those fallen a few hours before, and machine guns and rifles taken up now for socialism; April 17, Fidel on the battlefield, at Playa Girón.

This is how the Empire tasted defeat in its back yard, Latin America became a little freer, and an accursed word like socialism (something that never, ever, under any circumstance, would the "Americans" have permitted) was implanted in the consciousness of the people, organically, together with the notion of independence ("permissible" only, of course, in its outward manifestations), and nobody on the island looked north any more to wonder how far we could go, or what the "Americans" would think of us.

Of course, the philosophy of they-are-not-going-to-permit-this... originates and is maintained in the imperial appetite for the island, born in the days of Thomas Jefferson, and has remained unchanged through to Torricelli and Helms. The geopolitical scheme that imagines Cuba as a kind of "island-fruit" determined by Fate, or Destiny, or some such, to serve as food for the "giant with the seven-league boots" has been one of the pillars of the impossible, and Cubans could see the shadow of such a dangerous neighbourhood from the time of their earliest yearnings for independence. On January 1, 1959, the "island-fruit" radically renounced its condition; it became "forbidden fruit," poison, and that very day, with the Eisenhower government’s welcoming of murderers and torturers fleeing popular justice, a policy of hostility was initiated that has been going through the most diverse repertoire of attacks: Girón, La Coubre, assassination plots against Fidel and other leaders, infiltrations, support for armed gangs, germ warfare, radio and television stations with subversive missions, slander, diplomatic pressure, the blockade, unspeakable laws such as the Helms-Burton. That is, the "Americans" took seriously that there were things they "could not permit" and have used all their power not to permit, and they have failed.

On October 23, 1962 headlines in the press announced that "the nation has risen up in arms, ready to repel any attack." The collective memory of Cubans remained marked by those hours when this people, according to the testimony of Roberto Fernández Retamar, between bombs that were almost certain to come / and the missiles that finally left / [...] he put on his militia uniform, / to see what had to be done.[8] Some 300,000 reservists and soldiers were mobilized: men and women of all ages enlisted in the militia, they joined the health brigades, donated blood in hospitals, filled in for those who had been mobilized in industries and other workplaces, and went about becoming a collective example of courage and moral fortitude, that stood tall in the midst of the cold chess game played by the great powers that was the "cold war." In his farewell to Fidel, Che devotes a special memory to that moment of "perils and principles":

"I felt at your side the pride of belonging to our people in the bright and sad days of the Caribbean Crisis. Rarely has a statesman shone more brightly than in those days; I am also proud of having followed you without vacillation, identified with your way of thinking, and of seeing and appreciating the perils and the principles."[9]

A militia battalion marches along the Havana Malecón.

There is an emblematic photo by Corrales that evokes the day-to-day atmosphere of the October Crisis: what we might call "the everydayness of danger" that is accompanied by an "everydayness of principles." A militia battalion lines the Havana Malecón, with their old rifles and more or less threadbare jackets as the "North" punishes them and bursts of rain and the waves of a stormy sea hit them. Looking at the image you can almost touch the cold, cutting wind that causes the flag to vibrate and stabs their wet bodies like a knife. Over the island, over these men and their families, hang the most terrible imperial threats: of a naval blockade, massive aerial attacks, and even the use of nuclear weapons. Those rifles and the grim march of the battalion to who knows what point on the coast may seem "quixotic" and even useless faced with the enormity of the enemy. From the photo itself, if examined carefully, there emerges slowly, against all odds, the No of Baraguá. It starts taking on the impact of Quixote when he knocked down the bachelor Samson Carrasco, and we find ourselves at another "founding of Cuba by an act of revolutionary faith" and understand that a battalion like that, even if it were struck down and wiped off the map, would open "an airway for the fatherland."

It would be easy to describe as "quixotic" Martí's goals when he tirelessly prepared the uprising of 1895. Not only does he propose to wrest Cuba from colonial Spain, willing to go through "right up to the last man and the last peseta" on the Island, and build an independent Republic "with all and for the good of all": he wants to stop the spread of the northern Empire; lay the foundations of a free and united Latin America; and contribute to the "still faltering" equilibrium of the world. Martí's "quixotism" is taken up by the Revolution of '59, and many of its aims find fulfillment and expression in the imprint left on the island, in the world and its equilibrium, by the Cubans who populate our hundred images.

Cuban volunteers fight alongside Angolans in their war for liberation in Southern Africa.

Fidel in liberated territory in Vietnam, 1973.

The internationalist character and vocation of the "necessary war," and of the Republic it foreshadowed still come today through secret channels, to form the blood and substance of the "new sensibility" that Nicolás discovered for us in 1960. When patriotic feelings and the defence of national values are reinforced, there is never space for chauvinism or for a parochial vision of our efforts in "that uncommon conception of civic duty:" On the contrary, the identification with "the poor of the earth" increases day by day, and not only among the vanguard, but on the level of the masses. This people recognizes its cause in the cause of many other peoples, and solidarity is cultivated in its new way of "practicing cubanía."

Several pictures speak to us of the internationalism of revolutionary Cuba: Che; our fighters in Angola; our doctors and teachers; the children of Chernobyl; Fidel in the liberated territory of South Vietnam, or with Salvador Allende, or Mandela. More recent photos (Fidel in Cartagena de Indias, La Paz, Montevideo, received by thousands of men and women who salute in him the highest expression of Latin American dignity) show us the other side of the internationalism engaged in by Cubans: the solidarity the Revolution has received through all its existence, and that has become much broader and more effective since the collapse of European "real socialism." The popular demonstration in Montevideo in 1995 responds symbolically, over thirty years later, to the foreign ministers' meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay that expelled Cuba from the OAS in January 1962.

There are photos that touch on different aspects of the work of the Revolution: health, education, culture, sport. Others remind us of moments of particular significance: on May 1, 1980, for example, with the march along the Malecón of more than a million Cubans to the former U.S. embassy, known as the second March of the Fighting People.

Second March of the Fighting People, May 1, 1980.

Two photos (the opening of a day care centre and the revival of the micro-brigades) evoke the process of rectification that was initiated in 1986. The country was stepping up preparations to defend itself, alone, faced with the threats from Reagan who three years earlier had invaded Grenada and declared his determination to contain "communist expansion in Central America" with fire and sword as he sharpened his warmongering rhetoric against Cuba and Nicaragua. At this juncture, Fidel denounces an internal enemy that is ultimately as dangerous as the external one. Cuban society notices in itself, in its official structure and its social fabric "diabolical mechanisms," "errors and negative tendencies" that, in fact, can irreversibly damage the very foundations of the Revolution: "it is not a question of a campaign; this is a great battle, a great process, a great continuous struggle," "a strategic counter-offensive" which appeals to the "moral richness" and "critical spirit" of the people to confront the distortions, corruption, irrationality that exists in the "logic" of the technocrats, the "Creole tendency towards chaos, anarchy and lack of respect for the law," the demoralization, "copismo" [copying from the models of others -- TML Ed. note], the don't-get-into-a fight attitude and that "type of mysticism, the dream [...] that the mechanisms were going to solve everything."

Left: Fidel opens day care centre; right: photo of revived microbrigades.

With this process, with the will to rectify and the raw and courageous self-criticism that accompany it, the Cuban Revolution once again demonstrates its moral reserves, its anti-bureaucratic spirit, its capacity for intelligent self-renewal and to combat and overcome the forms of the impossible that might spring (are springing) from its own bosom. In fact, when we exorcise the "creole" demons and those that have been developing in other socialist experiences from revolutionary positions we are not only working for Cuba, "but for the cause of socialism in general":

"This is a long fight that I believe has to do not only with our Revolution. It has been proven that this problem has shown up in other places. It is proven. Privileges here, something else there, demoralization here and there, and it gets to a point where the masses, confused, demoralized, are the victims of anyone who tells them some fairy tales, of any demagogue, any pseudo-revolutionary, any pseudo-democrat."[10]

Two of these hundred images were taken during a ceremony in Camagüey: the celebration of July 26th in 1989. It had been drizzling the whole time (dark drops are seen on Fidel's uniform and some umbrellas protrude from the hushed crowd standing in rows, listening attentively to the speech), and in the background, once again, the statue of Martí, on a billboard, speaking about "our morality and our honour." It was not just another ceremony: it came at a decisive moment in the history of the century. Bush had just held a triumphal tour with a visit to Poland and Hungary where the forces of capitalist restoration already had decisive weight; in the USSR the so-called reformers were consolidating their positions, while the national and inter-ethnic contradictions along with other internal tensions were sharpening; the Empire and reaction were organizing the funeral of socialism, in the midst of an overpowering chorus that was joined by opportunists and repenters.

On that rainy day, before a silent crowd who were becoming increasingly aware of the unprecedented challenges that awaited Cuba, Fidel referred to the "moral rockets" that were erected among us during the October Crisis and that had not left the Island:

"We must warn imperialism not to have so many illusions about our Revolution and the notion that our Revolution would not be able to resist if a debacle occurs in the socialist community ..."

Celebration of July 26, 1989, Rebellion Day, in Camagüey.

Even if it should happen that the USSR disintegrates, "if tomorrow or any day we wake up [...] with the news that the USSR has disintegrated [...], even in those circumstances Cuba and the Cuban Revolution would continue fighting and continue resisting!" What's more, "when it comes to defence we learned some time ago to rely only on our own forces [...] Not even the worst scares us, neither the worst premise nor the worst hypothesis!"[11]

Fidel speaks to young students studying Lenin, 1990.

Starting in 1989 the impossible once again came to face the Cuban Revolution. Three or four months after the ceremony captured in the photo, the collapse of the Berlin Wall is celebrated; there are those who theorize about the "domino effect" that would lead to all the socialist countries falling one by one. The events in Eastern Europe seem to confirm such prophecies; the advent of the unipolar world and a much stronger and more totalitarian Fourth Reich than the one Hitler dreamed of is announced with gold trumpets; capitalism and the market are exalted from one end of the planet to the other as a system conceived by Providence for the salvation of humanity, and every anti-capitalist objection, however timid, is immediately disqualified as a deplorable lapse, or as absurd, insane, unnatural speculation, like the most feverish of quixotic delusions. In some places statues of Marx and Lenin are replaced by those of Scrooge McDuck, the millionaire uncle of Donald Duck, and there are communist parties that change their name, that dissolve or split, and many on the left do not know where to turn, showing their confusion through their babbling, while others crumble, like the wall, and try to bury their "red" past with self-flagellation and self-criticism as they rush to praise the victors and the Golden Calf.

In December 1989 the Yankees invade Panama, and bomb, kill and bury the dead with efficient bulldozers; in February 1990, the Sandinista Front loses an election held under pressure from the United States and well-armed "contras" as an instrument of imperial blackmail; in 1991, in January, there is the world premiere on television (more widely televised than the Oscars) of a war-show, the Gulf War, where the American Rome flaunts its impunity and the sophisticated technologies of its destructive power; in February, in the discussion of an export law the U.S. Senate approves the Mack Amendment, seed of the "Torricelli Law;" in September of the same year, the official demise of the Soviet Union is announced. From Cuba, Maceo's No is repeated and this people, with their leaders, together with a party that maintains its name and its ideals intact, begins to wage its day by day feat of endurance.

Defending revolutionary Cuba, 1990.

There are photos here that touch on the quiet exploits that Cubans have been displaying in the extremely harsh daily life of the Special Period: There are (obviously) not enough. One day there will have to be a gallery exclusively for those years in which this people strained with all of its energy, imagination, strength and creativity, and gave the No that was required by such a colossal impossible. Of course in that gallery, just like it cannot be overlooked in this book, there will appear the image of Fidel with his people on August 5, 1994, on the front line, when lumpen elements (unpatriotic by definition) tried to give the Empire a gift in the form of a parody of its much hoped-for "internal strife;" and it will have to include a view of the crowd gathered a year later, in 1995, outside the Castillo de La Punta: hundreds of thousands of Habaneros fill the esplanade, the Malecón, Prado, San Lázaro, to confirm that August 5 is and will be a day of the Revolution, one of those empty days waiting to be filled and to burn.[12]

Fidel, on the front lines with the Cuban people, August 5, 1994.

One day that poster, as flat and empty as the ceremonies organized by Batista for Martí's Centennial, also became filled with meaning and shone. A simple framed poster hung in the office of the head of a prison in a sterile, formal and offensive gesture, changed symbolically to take on an unexpected relevance in the first photo of the book. Another photo, taken on April 11, 1995, a hundred years after Martí's landing, brings us Fidel's personal tribute in the steep, rocky surroundings of La Playita de Cajobabo. Martí's thought, his presence, is in the First Declaration of Havana, in September 1960, and the Second, in February 1962, and there at Moncada, and in the "History Will Absolve Me," and with all dignified Cubans, on July 26, 1989, and together with the "mestizo, capable, inspiring masses of the country," with "that intelligent and creative mass of blacks and whites"[13] that keeps overcoming the hardships and obstacles of the past years.

Fidel's relationship with history (noted in the photo of Playitas and others included here) is not the cold and cerebral one of scholars, although it is based on a wealth of information that often extends to the minutest detail. It is not that of the traditional politician who refers to the past to support his program with illustrious antecedents, or as a pure rhetorical device: Fidel approaches history to understand it intellectually, analyze its twists and turns, its events and personalities and extract its essential lessons; but he lives it with the "soul of a guerrilla" and looks in it for material to plan the Cuba that is "possible," the Cuba that will receive its unanimous recognition only from "posterity." From the Isla de Pinos prison, in a letter dated March 3, 1954, he refers to the role that the book, Chronicles of the War by Miró Argenter played for those who carried out the assault on Moncada. "It was a real Bible for us," he says. "Many times," he adds,

"he reviewed our thinking [on] the immortal march of the Invading Army with it, living through every battle with emotion and trying to pick up as many useful tactical or strategic details as he could. And even when times have changed, along with the art of doing battle, all those acts flow from an immutable sentiment, the only one that makes the impossible possible and obliges posterity to unanimously believe what to many contemporaries seemed beyond belief. The pages of Chronicles of the War are filled with that sentiment, and whoever upon reading them does not feel his blood boil, full of faith in our kind, his soul seized by a desire for emulation, and his face go red at the affront, it is because he was not born with the soul of a guerrilla."[14]

Fidel Castro on the beach at Playitas, 1995.

Years later, when "what to many contemporaries seemed beyond belief," had already occurred, when the Revolution had triumphed and been consolidated, Fidel retraces one of the central ideas of that letter. Cintio Vitier reminds us of it in analyzing "that faith nourished by analysis" which is "contagious, irradiating and attracts with the moral magnetism of its heroism," which is giving rise to the renewed miracle of unity:" and everything that seemed impossible -- Fidel himself would say so on July 26, 1971 -- was possible."[15]

Faith and analysis, history and futurity: Fidel's insistence on not losing the thread, on continuity, on dialogue with the founders of the nation, looks to the past, yes; but is relentlessly oriented to the future. The imagined Cuba which is anticipated and sketched out between advances and setbacks, which is seen more or less clearly, is always however there, ebbing or flowing, like Lezama's potens. Poets generally capture / the past / vague and nostalgic / or the immediate present with its subtle fires and reverberations, Miguel Barnet reminds us in his poem "Fidel": But how difficult it is to capture the future / and locate it forever / in the lives of all poets, / of all men.[16]

History and its influence on what is created, the reverberations of the present, the laborious shaping of the future: references that in a revolution are juxtaposed and that come together in an unexpected way, and fertilize one another, and give rise to the legend that invents another space and another temporality. Here there are photos that allow us to discover the transfiguration of reality into mythology. They are truly miraculous photos, because they caught a key moment of that indefinable course: the environment and characters go about acquiring a relief that no longer conforms to historical objectivity, but to another moment, while contours are blurred and the scene moves beyond dates and calendars, and begins to enter a mythical time. Che's face with his beret and long hair, and looking nowhere, or into the future, who knows, that Korda captured during an event in 1960, occupies a place of honour among the essential images of the twentieth century, among those that will need scholars of the next millennium to understand this shattered century a bit: it is one of the contributions made by Cuban photographers to universal symbolic heritage, to the memory of all those who in one way or another have clung to the idea of emancipation.

Without a doubt the profile of Celia Sánchez, accentuated by a line of light, that cuts across another photo in the background, of Che, something that is veiled in death, belongs in a series where saga and history merge: the heroine who lives and works among us, the living legend, is superimposed on the legend of the hero assassinated in Bolivia a few months before Osvaldo Salas created the double homage with his lens. For a long time already Celia Sánchez had been "Celia" to the people; simply "Celia." She was already myth and reality, a myth and a palpable creation, and the people imagined her as a guardian angel of Cuba, of Fidel, of the Revolution. Atheists and believers prayed for her, each in their own way, and felt her very close to their large and small problems, like an older sister, or as an irreplaceable friend who cares for and feeds the sick and the children. In Salas' Celia that and more is said, without the need for words, and much better than anything that could be said in words.

Camilo Cienfuegos, simply "Camilo," like "Celia," was another of the myths that immediately took root in the popular consciousness. On October 28, 1959, just ten months after the revolutionary triumph, he disappeared suddenly at sea, and left us with a void, a scar. He is there, in some of the most legendary photos: in May 1957, in the Sierra, with Fidel, Raúl, Celia, Almeida; then on January 8, 1959, the only year that he was known and loved by all Cubans, at Fidel's arrival in Havana; the same January 8, a few hours later, presiding over the ceremony in Columbia [Camp Columbia, a military complex near Havana, originally established as a U.S. base in 1899 -- TML Ed. Note] during which several pigeons flew up to the podium and one perched on Fidel's shoulder, which atheists saw as a symbol, and believers as a sign from God or from the gods; and on March 10, bringing down Columbia's military walls, and in September, with Raúl and Hart, in the handover of the military installation, now converted to a school, to the Ministry of Education; and at the front of the cavalry on July 26, sharing, between the riders and flags, a laughing comment with the bearded man riding to his right. With that comment and the smiles of Camilo and the "bearded man" we detect the presence in this epic of the joking, humour, teasing, the Cuban smile, the smile of the militiaman at his wedding, the smile of the black cane cutter (even blacker because he has been cutting burnt cane) that suddenly breaks into that hearty, unrestrained, purifying laugh which has served us so well against the impossible.

Camilo, Celia, Che, Roa, Haydée, Fidel, Raúl, and the countless unknown, vibrant characters who fill this book: history, myth, pregnant and intense days, bright and sad days, spells decapitated, dangers, principles and Cuban laughter, the dialogue in the Plaza of the two tuning forks, and a stubborn quixotism that keeps going and does not faint, and opens airways for the homeland and for "other lands." The never-ending feeling that makes the impossible possible, the faith nourished by analysis that takes no repose, and spreads, radiates, attracts with heroism's moral magnetism, and rescues the ring lost in the pond. The future caught and placed forever in the lives of all men, and all the still unfilled days that we will see burn. In a hundred images we travel through the framework of a Revolution that shattered all manuals, set squares and dogmas, that was able to give the lie to the Plattists, to the theorists of the "objective and subjective conditions," to priests, barbers and bachelors, to the prophets of doom, the nephews of Scrooge McDuck, to those who accused Martí of being "crazy" and "utopian," in whom "the habit of servility" is so ingrained that "it leads them to presume the impotence they recognize in themselves resides in everyone else."[17]

Pedro Álvarez Tabio is to be congratulated for his work of searching and selecting, for offering us such a complete, such an impactful visual panorama of our great history and at the same time (how can it be avoided) our personal history, which have been and are one and the same. In this book Cubans of all ages will become reacquainted with what is purest and most dignified in ourselves. In many, memories of lived moments will be sparked and others who are younger can share in them and appropriate those memories and will feel "their blood boil, full of faith in our kind" if they examine these photos "with the soul of guerrillas" and take in the exhibition of the hundred images like the combatants of July 26 read the Chronicles of Miró Argenter. Thanks are also due of course to artists such as Korda, Corrales and Salas, who admirably combined talent and a vocation for testimony in the best works collected here, and to all the Cuban photographers who have perpetuated such vigorous fragments of life, reality and legend. Thanks to them we are able to view this gallery from the present and admire all over again the epic scale of the Cuban struggle against the impossible, the stature of our heroes, and of the many, many men and women, from three or four generations, who together raised the island's resistance, its moral integrity, its obstinacy, its capacity to repeat the No of Maceo, of Martí, of Fidel.

Havana, July 1996


1. Nicolás Guillén: "Tiempos de victoria y lucha," Lunes de Revolución, January 4, 1960. In: Prosa de prisa, Editorial Arte y Literatura, Havana, 1975, t. II, p. 265.

2. Ernesto Che Guevara: "El socialismo y el hombre en Cuba" (text addressed in 1965 to Carlos Quijano, editor of Marcha, Montevideo). In: Revolución, letras, arte, Editorial Letras Cubanas, Havana, 1980, p. 36.

3. Ernesto Che Guevara: "Carta a sus padres." In: Obras 1957-1967, Casa de las Américas, Havana, 1970, II, p. 693.

4. Cintio Vitier: Ese sol del mundo moral, Siglo XXI Editores, México, 1975, p. 67.

5. Cronología: 25 años de Revolución (1959-1983), Editora Política, Havana,, 1987, p. 24.

6. José Lezama Lima: "A partir de la poesía" (1960). In: La cantidad hechizada, Ediciones Unión, Havana, 1970, pp. 50-51. In "El 26 de Julio: imagen y posibilidad" (La Gaceta de Cuba, November-December 1968), states that the assault on the Moncada "was not a failure, it was a litmus test of the possibility and the image of our historical counterpoint, near death, the greatest test, as it had to be...." The Cuban, he said, "had lost the profound meaning of his symbols [...]. But July 26 broke the infernal spells, brought joy, then raised the time of the image like a polyhedron in the light,..." In: Imagen y posibilidad, Editorial Letras Cubanas, Havana, 1981, pp. 20-21.

7. Nicolás Guillén: "La sangre numerosa." In: Poesía completa, Editorial Letras Cubanas, Havana, 1973, II, p. 143: When with blood he writes / FIDEL this soldier who dies for his homeland...

8. Roberto Fernandez Retamar: "Sonata para pasar esos días y piano" (Poesia reunida, 1966). In: Palabra de mi pueblo, Editorial Letras Cubanas, Havana, 1989, p. 87.

9. Ernesto Che Guevara: "Carta a Fidel." In: Obras..., ed. cit., pp. 697-698.

10. Statement by Fidel at the tenth regular session of the National Assembly of People's Power, on July 3, 1986. Version published in Granma, on July 4, and reproduced in Cuba Socialista, Sept-Oct 1986, p. 124. The above quotations are taken from the number of Cuba Socialista, where Fidel's major interventions "related to the process of rectification of errors and negative tendencies made in meetings and events held between April 19 and July 26" are collected.

11. Fidel Castro: Socialismo, ciencia del ejemplo (booklet), Editora Política, Havana, 1989, p. 30.

12. Roberto Fernandez Retamar: "Que veremos arder" (1970). In: Palabra de mi pueblo, ed. cit., p. 122. The heroes of Moncada and the Sierra had no names, or at least their names / No one knew. The dates filled / were empty as an empty house ... / Now, those who do not have names, / or whose names nobody knows yet, / prepare flares in the shadows / empty dates to see burning.

13. José Martí: "Carta a Manuel Mercado," May 18, 1895. In: Obras completas, Editorial Nacional de Cuba, Havana, 1963, t. XX, p. 162.

14. Letter quoted by Mario Menda: La prisión fecunda, Editora Política, Havana, 1980, p. 34.

15. Cintio Vitier: Ese sol..., ed. cit., pp. 180-181.

16. Miguel Barnet: "Fidel" (Carta de noche 1983). In: Con pies de gato, Ediciones Unión, Havana, 1993, p. 159.

17. José Martí: "El remedio anexionista," Patria, New York, July 2, 1892. In: Obras completas, ed. cit., t. 11, p. 49.

(Translated from the original Spanish by Margaret Villamizar.)

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